Middlesbrough Q&A: What are the chances of Neil Warnock staying next season and what will be discussed at his meeting with Steve Gibson?
Middlesbrough got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Coventry at St Andrew’s – a result which kept Neil Warnock’s side in touching distance of the play-off places.
The Boro boss is now set to have a meeting with chairman Steve Gibson to discuss several aspects of the club, including his future.
We take a closer look at some of the big questions and talking points as the Teessiders prepare for Saturday’s trip to Swansea:
What are the chances of Warnock staying next season?
The Boro boss has tried not to give much away regarding his future, similar to the end of last season.
What is clear, though, is that Warnock’s passion for the game remains strong and he has enjoyed working with this group of players which he described as the best footballers he’s ever worked with.
Warnock has also been looking at transfer targets who could improve the squad but doesn’t believe the current group needs much work.
Providing the 72-year-old is fit and healthy, it seems it would be difficult for him to walk away from this project, though it will depend on different factors.
Warnock joked earlier in the season that he’s ‘under the thumb’ and that his wife Sharon is keen to go to Italy for a few months.
From Gibson’s side, the Boro owner will know it will be difficult to find a better manager than Warnock at this level.
What will be discussed at Warnock’s meeting with Gibson?
As well as Warnock’s future, the pair will discuss all aspects of the club including transfers, recruitment and the academy.
That’s not to say there is anything fundamentally wrong, yet there are always areas which can be improved, with Warnock describing the meeting as a half-year report.
On the recruitment side, a lot was made of Warnock’s comments about Chuba Akpom last week after the Boro boss said the striker was signed looking at videos and stats.
Warnock has since played down the criticism, saying the club didn’t have much choice when they weren’t able to watch players live.
Interestingly, Boro’s recruitment strategy has changed this season, after the club were looking to sign younger players who could grow with the club under the previous regime.
Warnock has spoken highly of the club’s academy and will still be keen to promote younger players, yet he’s also stressed the importance of needing experience to win promotion from the Championship.
Should Boro stick with a back three?
It’s a system which has worked well for Boro this season and in recent weeks – Bristol City aside.
Grant Hall’s return from injury has provided a big boost and the centre-back has been excellent at the heart of a three-man backline in his three appearances this year.
I think Boro’s system will often depend on the opponents, as Warnock likes to deploy a man-marking system to nullify the opposition’s threats.
The good thing is there are options, like we have seen in the last two games against Cardiff and Coventry when the substitutes have made an impact.
Boro can easily switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation if the game suits those systems, with Yannick Bolasie available again and Nathanial Mendez-Laing improving.